Package python was not found in the pkg-config search path when using scons

2020-09-28 17:49:52 +0000

After upgrading to Ubuntu 20.04 at the weekend (this is not strictly relevant), one of my builds started failing with the following error:

Package python was not found in the pkg-config search path.
Perhaps you should add the directory containing `python.pc'
to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable
No package 'python' found
OSError: 'pkg-config --cflags --libs python' exited 1:
...
  File ".../SConscript", line 11:
    env.ParseConfig('pkg-config --cflags --libs python')
...

I couldn’t find anything on Google, so having solved the problem, I figured I’d write it up for posterity.

tl;dr

scons runs your build under a clean environment

This means that if you’re using virtualenv, pyenv or (as in my case) direnv to manage your Python environment, you might need to ensure that your PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable is set in your SConstruct:

if 'PKG_CONFIG_PATH' in os.environ:
    env['ENV']['PKG_CONFIG_PATH'] = os.environ['PKG_CONFIG_PATH']

Note: The above hasn’t been tested, since our SConstruct file is kinda complicated, and I had to do something correspondingly trickier, but it ought to work.

See https://scons.org/doc/3.1.2/HTML/scons-user/ch07s03.html for more information.